Launching a new ensemble, organization, or business? Read this, Part I. Start with You

One of the most common questions I get as I mentor artists is how to successfully launch a new ensemble, socially relevant organization, or business. Today, I’m launching a series of “how to” posts designed to help you create and develop your great ideas.

These posts will give you the tools to bring your great ideas to life and provide a systematic approach to developing creative solutions to the problems we face in our 21st-century world.


  1. Don’t pay to learn about entrepreneurship.  Learn by doing.
  2. In the world of new venture creation, flexibility and context reign supreme.
  3. Work with people outside your discipline.
  4. Don’t be afraid to fail.

Goals: These posts will help you:

  • Develop ideas that use community-based partnerships and principles of social entrepreneurship to change the direction of the business and arts fields.
  • Create sustainable programs that last long after you implement your ideas.
  • Begin at a grassroots level, then work to reach a broad audience.
  • Be socially empathetic and concerned about how you can make a positive difference in the world.
  • Create a sustainable performing ensemble
  • Become the arts and business leaders of tomorrow.

With all of the above in mind, let’s dive in!

Step 1. Start with you.

  • Establish why you want to start a new initiative—Your guiding values are the most important driver of your unique ideas.  What are you drives and inspires you, outside your art?  How can you fuse your interests outside the practice room with your great work inside the practice room?  One of the best ways to find your path is to seek out opportunities that fuel your passions on your campus or in your community.   Tip: Make a list of things that drive you outside your art in order to frame the type of work you’d like to do. Don’t worry about how far fetched anything you write down is, the goal is to get a diversity of ideas down on paper. If you’re not sure about what you’re passionate about, start with this post
  • Figure out what makes you tick—One of the most important aspects of launching a new idea is to figure out your strengths in the workplace. I have found that the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 is incredibly helpful to help you determine your work style. Not only will this help you in the process of launching a new idea but it will also help you as you partner with others to carry out your idea. Tip: When you purchase this book by clicking the link above, you’ll receive a code for an online quiz that will give you your top five strengths. I strongly encourage you or your team/ensemble to take this quiz before you launch your idea.

The hardest part about all of this is getting started.  Your work today and over the next sessions will help get you going on your idea. Tomorrow, I’ll provide information on identifying an opportunity, complete with brainstorming activities designed to help you focus your ideas.


What barriers do you face in starting a new venture/project? What ideas do you have percolating?  I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.  Thanks and I look forward to working with you over the next several posts!

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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